Just a quick observation and prediction (of sorts) regarding two high-profile attacks involving gay men of color in 2019.
When then-“Empire” star Jussie Smollett claimed that he had been the victim of a hate crime in January – he said he was assaulted by two white men invoking Trump – it generated extensive coverage and media hand-wringing for weeks. This coverage ensued despite suspicions very early on that the attack was a hoax. Of course, those suspicions turned out to be true.
Yesterday, journalist Andy Ngo was viciously assaulted by (ironically labeled) “Antifa” thugs during protests in the increasingly dystopian city of Portland, Oregon. Ngo has been covering Antifa’s illiberal and illegal activities in that city for quite some time, documenting both the excesses of that extremist group as well as the deliberate fecklessness of Mayor Ted Wheeler in addressing the problem. Yesterday’s attack sent Ngo to the hospital; initial reports on Twitter indicated that he might have a brain bleed among other injuries.
The attack on Ngo dominated a portion of the conversation on Twitter that evening, though sadly, the outpouring of sympathy and shock was accompanied by some vile remarks lauding the assault. Even some journalists and pundits were quick to make excuses for Antifa’s thuggery. In a few cases, some went full “blame the victim”, ludicrously suggesting that Ngo was targeted not for his journalistic work but for alleged racism on his part. In other words, “he had it coming”.
The following day, Ngo’s assault got brief – and I stress “brief” – mentions on “Reliable Sources” on CNN as well as stories from CBS, Fox, and others as part of almost-as-brief coverage of the Portland protests overall. Let’s see if those accounts regarding the beatdown of a gay journalist of color doing his job are the beginning of significant media coverage or the end of a perfunctory CYA exercise on the media’s part.
But surely, this won’t be the end of the coverage, right? The media will treat this actual, on-the-job attack on a gay journalist of color at least as extensively as they did a fake attack on a gay non-journalist of color like Smollett, right? After all, how many journalists and media pundits have opined ad nauseam since the 2016 election about how it is “a dangerous time to tell the truth in America”.
If the same media “firefighters” who have railed endlessly about the dangers of journalism since 2016 are largely silent in the coming week, what does that tell us? What is different about this attack? It involved a gay man of color, a journalist at that, and it happened during this “dangerous time to tell the truth in America”.
Here’s what it will tell me: If the attack doesn’t get significant coverage in the coming week, it can be used as prima facia evidence that many in the national media don’t really care about threats to journalists unless those journalists toe the party line regarding the progressive narrative.